EVERY MORNING, TheJournal.ie brings you the nine things you need to know as you start your day…
1. #CHINA VISIT: Today marks the final day of Chinese vice-president Xi Jinping to Ireland. Xi will this morning visit Áras an Úachtaráin to meet Michael D Higgins, and attend a forum on trade and investment between Ireland and China. Not everyone has been thrilled with the visit, though: Joe Higgins and the Irish Anti-War Movement have complained about the “obsequious” welcome afforded to Xi.
2. #GREECE: Today’s a big day for the euro. Michael Noonan will be joining finance ministers from the other 16 eurozone members in Brussels later today, where they’ll decide on whether to sign off on Greece’s second €130bn bailout. Without the deal, Greece will default on loans which fall due next month.
3. #BANK OF IRELAND: The only Irish bank outside of state ownership has reported a major drop in its pre-tax losses for 2011, losing €190m last year compared to €950m the year before. The bank’s operating profit before impairment charges, however, fell – with the amount of debt written off rising compared to 2010.
4. #VATICAN EMBASSY: It’s the row that won’t go away. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has suggested that Ireland could still reopen its Vatican embassy, albeit “in a leaner way” - telling RTÉ that the Holy See and Italian embassies could perhaps share a building. The government has been forced to again assert that it has no plans to reverse the closure of its mission to the Holy See.
5. #WHISTLEBLOWERS: The Irish Times reports that legislation is to be published in draft form this week which will allow temporary employees to make “protected disclosure” without recrimination from their employers – just weeks after one HSE whistleblower was laid off, and then reinstated, after raising fears about the welfare of mental health patients.
6. #GRANTS: The High Court will this week rule on whether changes to the third-level grant system introduced by the previous government should be reversed. Budget 2011 changed rules so that many students, in particular postgraduates, were no longer entitled to the same level of grants they already received – and the High Court has granted a judicial review on whether to roll them back.
7. #SUN ON SUNDAY: When Rupert Murdoch promised the launch of a Sunday edition of The Sun, few expected that it would arrive quite so quickly: but the front of today’s edition says the first Sun on Sunday one will be going on sale this coming weekend.
8. #MEXICO: The death roll from the major prison riot in Mexico has now risen to 44. The riot broke out yesterday – but it’s now been suggested that the riot may have been a cover-up for a major prison break. A security official told AP that the fight between two blocks – each of which has 750 inmates – could have been a ploy to distract officers while others tried to escape.
9. #YUM: Don’t all jump at once, now. A Dutch scientist has promised to produce the world’s first “test-tube hamburger” later this year, using meat grown entirely from a cow’s stem cells. Proponents of the idea claim the technology could ultimately allow humans to enjoy meat without having to kill animals, and can also cut down on distribution costs.